Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Making nuclear plants safe and secure

By Yin Xiaoliang (China Daily) Updated: 2011-06-28 07:50

The agreement among the three countries' leaders signifies the political will of the their governments to respond appropriately to "nuclear accidents" and other non-traditional security threats. This should lay the political foundation of a systematic mechanism. But the cooperation in nuclear security discussed by the leaders in Tokyo is only part of a framework, not concrete points to build a system.

Given their similar geographical attributes and common political will, China, Japan and South Korea should expedite the shift in their "security paradigm" to deal effectively with non-traditional security threats such as a nuclear crisis. For that, the new nuclear security mechanism should be based on mutual trust and benefit, equality and cooperation.

The three countries, however, have to overcome some obstacles to shift their focus from traditional to non-traditional security outlook.

First, they have to raise the status of non-traditional security threats from a low- to high-level political issue in terms of strategy. Traditionally, important strategic decisions on defense, diplomacy and war have been high-level political issues, while problems such as environmental pollution, climate change and welfare are low-level issues. But the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis has proved how important it is to coordinate and cooperate on issues of safety and security in nuclear power plants.

Second, China, Japan and South Korea have to make specific arrangements to strengthen their cooperation in nuclear security, which would enrich the mechanism. They should initiate concrete negotiations and agree to cooperate in matters of organization, personnel allocation, scale, principle and objectives. The aim of institutional arrangement is to protect its member countries' interests, for which the three countries have to bargain, coordinate and compromise.

And finally, they have to make efforts to reduce the negative impact that Japan's political instability has had on nuclear cooperation.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan may be forced to resign soon, and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan could find it difficult to revitalize the economy and rebuild the disaster-stricken areas in a short time. So to ensure smooth nuclear cooperation among the three countries, technocrats, not politicians, from Japan - and their counterparts from China and South Korea - should run the cooperation mechanism. Only professional-level cooperation can guarantee undisturbed and long-term cooperation in nuclear safety and security.

The author is a research scholar at the Institute of Japan Studies, Nankai University, Tianjin.

(China Daily 06/28/2011 page9)

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